The Porsche 911 is unique, preserving its lineage while leading the pack, for decades. Its shape is iconic, recognized by billions of people around the world.
There are six levels of performance, from the base Carrera through the Turbo S to the GT3. Each has its own looks and feel. There is a Targa-top model, as well as a convertible Cabriolet.
The 2016 Porsche 911 isn’t changed, because an extensive freshening is coming for 2017. However, there is a new model, the GT3 RS, a street-legal race car, built so the actual racecar, which has its own global series, can be homologated.
One of the best sports car to drive on a race track, the 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is stripped to the bone to save weight, with magnesium roof, carbon-fiber hood and trunk lid, carbon-fiber seats and a rollcage. Because of that cage, it’s only 22 pounds lighter than the GT3, with a curb weight of 3130 pounds. It uses a 4.0-liter flat-six engine making 500 horsepower and 338 pound-feet of torque, not turbocharged, mated to a racing dual-clutch seven-speed transmission. It will hit 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, 124 mph in 10.9 seconds, and more than 200 mph.
The 911 lineup starts with the Carrera, which uses a direct-injected 350-horsepower flat-six 3.4-liter engine, the S models gets a 3.8-liter with 400 hp, the GTS gets 430 hp, and the GT3 gets 475. All are rear-wheel drive.
Then the turbochargers are bolted on, and the 911 Turbo makes 520 hp and Turbo S 560 hp; both are all-wheel drive.
The transmission will be a 7-speed manual or seven-speed paddle-shifting twin-clutch.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the 911, although too many too-fast drivers have. It’s not a car to take lightly.
Porsche prices have always been set by whatever the Porsche lover or admirer will pay, which maybe explains exorbitant upgrades. For example, if all you want is a Carrera Coupe you can get one for $84,300, but if you want a turbocharged convertible, the Cabriolet Turbo will cost nearly twice that, $163,000. The ultimate 560-hp Turbo S Coupe climbs past that, to $182,700.
The base 3.4-liter Targa is $102,930, with 4S and 4GTS models available with the 3.8-liter engine and all-wheel-drive.
Comfort and technology options are available, making your sports car function like a luxury sedan inside, while driving the price up.
Dealers also sell things to personalize your Porsche, such as spoilers, fascia, wheels, decals and clear taillamps.
It has a low sloped nose, wide front track, rising fenders with rounded headlamps, and fastback roofline. The wheelbase has grown over the years, out of its awkward looks like an upside-down bathtub, and now stretches the lines into handsome arches and curves. A wide rear track, especially on the turbos with all-wheel-drive, heightens the Coke-bottle shape.
The new 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS has vents all over the place, and a giant wing over a ducktail spoiler.
The Targa looks ’70s retro, but it functions thoroughly modern. It opens in a complicated meshing of parts that’s fascinating to watch, as it tidily folds and stows itself.
If you overlook the rollcage in the GT3 RS, all Porsche 911 cabins look the same, and that’s a good thing, at least for the buyer of the base Carrera. It’s a good fit for the task of the 911, a sporty daily driver. The cabin feels open, with a big windscreen and windows. The front seats are comfortable, the so-called rear seats are good for packages–although we once took a full-grown woman for a wild ride back there, over a hundred miles of twisty German roads, and she climbed out with only a few creaks but a big smile.
The front trunk holds a good amount of road-trip gear.
This generation of 911, for the first time, has a full center console, which doesn’t skimp on the switchgear. Yet it has a spare look, taken from the Panamera sedan. It’s the first Porsche with touch-screen interfaces.
Any sports car would envy the stability, balance, agility and coordination of the Porsche 911, even the Turbo S. With neutral handling, a nimble suspension, amazing brakes, and fast acceleration (awesome in the Turbo and Turbo S), it’s a total package.
The 911 no longer oversteers, thanks to electronic management and evolved suspension engineering. The only weakness is the electric power steering; it’s accurate and nicely weighted, but doesn’t provide the same feel as the earlier 911 with hydraulic power steering.
The base 3.4-liter flat six with 350 horsepower is eager and revs freely. The Carrera S, 4S and Targa 4S get a 3.8-liter making 400 horsepower. Transmissions can be a seven-speed gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic manual, derived from Porsche racecars and called PDK.
With the PDK, the Carrera accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, the Carrera S in 4.3, Carrera 4 in 4.5 seconds, and 4S in 4.3. Cabriolet models add a couple tenths and Targa models a couple more. The GT3, with its 475-horsepower 3.8-liter engine and racing-tuned PDK transmission, takes just 3.3 seconds.
Even with the supercar performance of the 911 Turbo and Turbo S, they are easy to drive. The 3.8-liter 911 Turbo pumps out 520 horsepower using twin turbochargers, and hits 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds with launch control and standard all-wheel drive. The Turbo S uses its 560 horsepower to hit 2.9 seconds and 198 mph.
Speed-wise for the other models, you’re looking at 179 miles per hour in the base Carrera, 188 mph in the Carrera S, 177 in the Carrera 4, 185 in the 4S, 175 in the Targa 4 and 183 in the Targa 4S. The GT3 goes 195 mph, and laps the Nurburgring in 7 minutes and 30 seconds.
The available Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) has settings from Comfort to Sport Plus. Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) adjusts the car’s roll stiffness using active anti-roll bars.
With the Sport Chrono package comes launch control, which takes a couple tenths off that 0-60 mph time, as well as providing electronic timing. Carbon-ceramic brakes are also available, useful for track days but not the street because they need to be hot to work well.
The Porsche 911 comes in many levels of performance. It’s highly evolved, and easy to drive on the street. We like what the base Carrera offers. Its speed, comfort, handling and iconic looks make it a total package.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. Words by Sam Moses.